Coronavirus - Laying Down the Law

Chris Sutton makes some interesting observations in the Daily Record about the Scottish Government's reaction to those who break the 'rules' on preventing the spread of Covid-19.

For example, he makes the very fair point that senior figures in the Scottish Government were not forced into quarantine after the Chief Medical Officer (CMO), Catherine Calderwood, was caught breaking the rules by making two trips to her holiday home in Fife.

Now if I remember correctly, the CMO said that she was careful to practise social distancing during these visits.

No doubt Boli Bolingoli would say the same and he has two negative Covid-19 tests to prove that he is no health risk to others, apart from his own in the Celtic dressing room apparently.

So I do resent this rather selective approach to 'laying down the law' especially when you can see people casually flouting the rules on a daily basis long before the latest football revelations came to light.

As for Jason Leitch, the National Clinical Director has 'form' in terms of pushing an agreed line of behalf of the politicians but that doesn't mean that he or the Scottish Government has got the line right - see post below 'Coronavirus - Then and Now' dated 28 May 2020.

The Scottish Government's treatment of care homes being the obvious example - see post below 'Care Homes - Thrown Under the Bus' dated 31 May 2020.

Read the full article (which includes a radio interview) via the link to the Daily Record below.

Boli Bolingoli was a disgrace to Celtic but I was disgusted by 'privileged' digs from politicians - Chris Sutton

Chris is in no doubt Bolingoli and the Aberdeen eight acted wrongly but wonders if footballers aren't easy targets.

By Chris Sutton - Daily Record

Boli Bolingoli behaved like an idiot. That’s not up for debate.

I had to smile when Neil Lennon said he might struggle to get back into the dressing room. Struggle?

If it’s like the dressing room we shared at Celtic, Bolingoli would have been lucky to get out of it in one piece when the news of his stupid Spain jolly broke, never mind back into it.
The Aberdeen boys were also guilty of being careless when they went into the pub as an eight.

You can’t condone rule-breaking. But I’ve got to be honest, I’m also getting very uneasy about the way footballers are being treated and talked about by politicians plus other people.

In fact, I’ll go a step further. Some of the language used by Nicola Sturgeon and Jason Leitch last week actually made me very angry.

Both of them stood at their platform and talked about privilege.

Leitch said that a bubble system has been designed because players are privileged and getting to do things the rest of the population aren’t. What’s that then? Go to their work?

That’s what footballers are being put in a bubble to do – to go to their work.

Just like the staff at supermarkets, or those who work in the hospitality sector, or those who are going to office blocks.

They aren’t getting sent on free holidays to Barbados. They’re going to work to do their jobs, which their employers pay them for.

How’s that privileged?

Leitch had a meeting on Zoom with the managers and captains at the beginning of the week and I was disgusted when I heard the way he spoke about it.

Mentioning how he had reminded them of their responsibilities, he actually said: “I didn’t miss them, I think you can be assured.”

Didn’t miss them? Who does he think he is, John Wayne?

I’m loath to criticise any person who is trying to keep people safe, let alone the National Clinical Director. But you can criticise such patronising language – it’s not helpful.

Covid-19 is very serious. No one takes it more seriously than me. I was deeply annoyed at the English Premier League talking about start dates at the beginning of the pandemic when people were dying in their thousands.

My dad is high risk so I don’t like to go out for meals or anything like that at the moment.

But I know my boys are going out for some food and a pint here and there. That’s fine because I know they’ll be super careful.

Bolingoli’s indiscretion was disgraceful. What he did was indefensible. It was a blatant lack of respect for everyone. The Aberdeen boys were guilty more of a bit of bad judgment.

We all know there are plenty of people in the UK who are doing exactly the same as the Dons guys did. There are loads of people being caught breaking the rules and they are getting a slap on the wrist or a warning. Maybe even a small fine.

I’m hearing discussions about players having to do community service if they are caught breaking the rules. Community service? That’s a term linked to people who could be sent to jail. It’s preposterous.

Of course, it’s all too late. If they had put the correct measures in place to start with we’d not have had these recent issues.

If the punishments had been a fine of six weeks’ wages and a six-game ban for any player, I’d bet we wouldn’t have any rules breaks.

But now, as usual, it’s about authorities being reactive instead of proactive.

Players will feel they simply can’t go out to restaurants or cafes any more.

It annoys me that these lads feel they can’t go over the door now when boys and girls around Scotland can go out with three of their mates for a latte or a pizza.

Sturgeon said she’s asking members of the public to make huge sacrifices in how they live their lives and how she can’t have privileged football players just deciding they’re not going to bother.

The First Minister gave out chat about yellow cards, how the next incident will be a red and football could be shut down.

But when her Chief Medical Officer was caught breaking the rules at her holiday home in Fife I don’t recall any talk of Holyrood being shut down.

In fact, if I recall correctly, Sturgeon initially chose to keep Catherine Calderwood in her job until the sheer weight of public pressure forced that situation to change.

Let me make this clear. I’m not defending Bolingoli or anyone who flaunts the rules with such blatant disregard.

I’m also not saying the Aberdeen boys didn’t do anything wrong in the current climate.

But some of the talk is over the score. Footballers are easy targets.

It was the same at the beginning when people were demanding they take pay cuts and make donations to charities as well as the NHS. This when TV, film and music stars weren’t even getting a mention and some were laying off staff.

These lads are like prisoners now. They won’t even be able to go to the garage for petrol without some vigilante holding a mobile phone and trying to take their picture to get them into trouble.

If you think being allowed to go to your work and do your job means you’re privileged then that makes every working man and woman in the country going to their graft every morning privileged at the moment.

But do you think a milkman, a mechanic or a plumber who breaches Covid-19 rules is going to get community service or singled out for a personalised lecture from government?

No, nor me. So why should footballers be any different?

Coronavirus - Then and Now (28/05/20)

Here's an interesting Channel 4 interview with Scotland's national clinical director, Jason Leitch who was speaking on behalf of the Scottish Government on 16 March 2020, the week before the current lockdown was imposed. 

Here are some key points that jump out to me, albeit with the benefit of hindsight which was not available to the decision-makers at the time: 
  • Original prediction was that 80% of the population would become infected with most suffering mild symptoms
  • NHS staff testing - but only if showing symptoms
  • No mention of care staff or hospital patients discharged to  care homes or their own homes
  • Scotland has adequate testing in place
  • Scotland and the rest of the UK in the context of World Health Organisation (WHO) advice 
  • Contact with the elderly and other vulnerable groups
  • Spread of the Coronavirus by people with no symptoms 
  • The importance of social distancing - at the right moment
  • The impact of lockdown measures on Scotland's care homes 
  • Part of the strategy was to develop herd immunity because "you can't get rid of the virus"
  • Contact tracing was dropped in Phase 2 as part of the agreed UK wide strategy 
Now I make no personal criticism of Mr Leitch because he was putting across a very carefully crafted message on behalf of the Scottish Government which politicians turned into public policy having weighed up the best available scientific evidence.

Yet it seems crystal clear, even now, that a major weakness of the agreed government strategy was the role played in spreading the virus far and wide - by people who were already infected without showing any symptoms of Covid-19.

I would also say that government lost sight of the need to make social care and care homes as big a priority as the NHS. 

But do make time listen to Jason Leitch's Channel 4 interview and decide for yourself.  


Care Homes - Thrown Under The Bus (20/05/20)

When the time comes to look back on the battle to stop the spread of Covid-19 I suspect the evidence will show that care homes across the UK were 'thrown under the bus'. 

Some of the many challenges have already been widely reported in the media, often with the aim of finding someone to blame, but here are several issues which have jumped out to me so far.

  • Hospitals have discharging patients into care homes without ensuring they are not infected with Covid-19
  • Care home residents and staff in care homes have not been routinely tested for Covid-19 - despite repeated promises
  • The supply of PPE (Personal Protection Equipment) to care homes has been slow and patchy
  • The guidance on the use of PPE in care homes has been poor, for example on the wearing of face masks
  • The absence of a robust TTI (Test, Trace, Isolate) policy has made it more difficult to contain outbreaks of Covid-19   
  • Patients who would normally be transferred to hospitals for treatment have been forced to remain in their care home
  • Doctors have designated care home residents as DNR (Do Not Resuscitate) without consulting residents or their families
  • Staff in the independent sector are being penalised for self-isolating because they do not receive their full pay
  • The Care Inspectorate (which regulates the sector) has been accused of operating with too much of a 'light-touch' after suspending its inspections during the epidemic
My Mum spent her last days in a care home and I know from my own experience that the staff who cared for and looked after her were every bit as committed as the staff in the local hospital (which she visited regularly) and the Home Carers who enabled her to live independently until she needed the extra help and support of a residential care home.  


Coronavirus, Care Homes and Testing (16/05/20)

The shocking deaths of 7 residents at the Home Farm care home in Skye has led to the Scottish Government taking the owners (HC-One) to court with a view to removing their licence.

Now I don't know the reasoning behind this decision, but you would imagine the Scottish Government must have a good case for taking such strong action.

But what is odd is that in West Dunbartonshire an even more shocking 16 residents died from Coronavirus after Crosslet House declared itself to be "Covid-19 free".

The Times reported this story on 22 April 2020 with the local MP (Jackie Baillie) and Scotland's health minister (Jeane Freeman) both condemning shameful behaviour which gave the impression that residents were being tested when they were not.

So what action, if any, was taken to safeguard residents at Crosslet House run by West Dunbartonshire council and why should this care home be treated any differently to the Home Farm facility in Portree?

Coronavirus in Scotland: testing at care homes increased after outcry

22 April 2020

Jeane Freeman, the Scottish health secretary, at Holyrood yesterday. She said that all new residents moving into homes would be tested for Covid-19 and isolated for 14 days - Photo


By Helen Puttick - The Times

Inspections and coronavirus testing across Scotland’s care homes are being ramped up after ministers bowed to concerns about the number of residents falling ill.

Jeane Freeman, the Scottish health secretary, said that care homes “should not have seen the level of transmission” experienced if all the guidance on social distancing was being followed.

She announced a “considerable increase in intervention and oversight” with NHS public health directors told to report back on how nursing homes were coping, whether they were following the rules and had the necessary protective equipment.

In a significant change of policy, she also said all new residents moving into homes would be tested for Covid-19 and isolated for 14 days. Less than a week ago Nicola Sturgeon rejected calls to test potential care home residents, arguing that this could undermine other infection control measures.

Yesterday’s figures showed that the number of patients admitted to intensive care with the virus in Scotland was reducing. The death toll of confirmed cases was 985, up 70 from Monday.

Yesterday Jackie Baillie, the deputy leader of Scottish Labour, highlighted that Crosslet House care home, which is run by West Dunbartonshire council, had registered 16 deaths despite managers’ claims that it was “Covid-19 free”.

Ms Baillie accused the council of “a shameful piece of spin” and giving the impression that residents were being tested. Ms Freeman described the episode as “utterly shameful and completely unacceptable” and said the NHS’s regional director of public health would investigate.

The health secretary also promised that she would not leave the office last night until an issue was resolved of personal assistants who care for frail people in the community being unable to contact a helpline for supplies of personal protective equipment. Ms Freeman said: “There is no reason at this point why they cannot access PPE.”

Donald Macaskill, the chief executive of Scottish Care, which represents care home and home care providers, welcomed the new measures to support the sector. “This will support a very stretched sector to deal with the most vicious disease many of us have ever known in our lifetime,” he said.

During her statement in the chamber yesterday Ms Freeman made it clear that testing would be available for all care home staff and residents. She added: “We are also building the testing structure we need as we move to the next phase, our capacity to test, trace and isolate will be critical to controlling the virus.”

The Scottish Conservatives said they continued to hear of shortages of personal protective clothing. Jackson Carlaw, the party’s leader, said: “We keep hearing that Scotland has sufficient supplies of PPE for now and the foreseeable future. But still care homes, and carers working in communities, are being left exposed to the huge risks of coronavirus.

“There is clearly still a problem when it comes to getting these provisions to those who need them and we’re now several weeks into this crisis.”

Ms Freeman said there were enough supplies but that efforts were required to continue ensuring this was the case.

Care Homes and Coronavirus (14/05/20)

Incredible though it sounds Scotland's health minister, Jeane Freeman was forced to admit that she had not seen the latest care home guidance issued by the Scottish Government.

Now there is controversy surrounding residential care at the moment with claims that residents have been:

  • denied access to hospital treatment 
  • discharged from hospital without being given the 'all clear' from Coronavirus
  • issued with 'DNR (Do Not Resuscitate) notices by GPs' without their and/or their families knowledge.
And that's without getting into the problems of PPE and whether 'barrier techniques' in care homes have been of a sufficiently high standard.  

So you would think that the Scottish health minister would be familiar with the latest advice being issued by her own government department. 

Read a full report in the link below to The Scotsman.


Protecting Service Users and Essential Workers (21/04/20)

The BBC reports another incident of multiple deaths due to Coronavirus in a Scottish care home - this time in Crosslet House run by West Dunbartonshire Council.

As with other incidents, the authorities are clearly working hard to safeguard residents and staff, but it does seem to have been a real struggle to get the right kind of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) to essential workers on the front line, in this case to home carers and carers in residential homes.


Coronavirus: '15 dead' after outbreak at care home in DumbartonImage copyright - GETTY IMAGES Image caption - A quarter of Scotland's coronavirus deaths have occurred in care homes

Scottish Labour's deputy leader said 15 residents have died following an outbreak of Covid-19 at a care home in Dumbarton.

Jackie Baillie, who is also the local MSP, described the reports from Crosslet House as "devastating".

West Dunbartonshire Council said it has suspended new admissions to the 70-bed home for the time being but declined to comment on the number of deaths.

The Daily Record reported the cases were highlighted by a whistleblower.

Ms Baillie tweeted: "Devastating to hear 15 people have died at Crosslet House. My thoughts are with the families who have lost loved ones. Serious questions need to be asked as to the handling of this outbreak. Every staff member and resident must be tested for Covid. There must be no new admissions."

Meanwhile, six residents at an Aberdeen care home are believed to have died with suspected coronavirus symptoms.

Bon Accord Care, the operators of the Kingswells home have confirmed there have been a number of deaths there, and said it has "robust infection control in place throughout the home".

There have been a number of suspected Covid-19 outbreaks in recent weeks.

The largest known have occurred at Berelands Care Home, Prestwick; Burlington Court Care Home, Cranhill; Elderslie Nursing Home, Paisley; and Hill View, Clydebank.

Crosslet House is the second Dumbarton home to experience a number of suspected Covid-19 deaths after it emerged eight residents had died in the privately operated Castle View.

Devastating to hear 15 people have died at Crosslet House. My thoughts are with the families who have lost loved ones. Serious questions need to be asked as to the handling of this outbreak. Every staff member and resident must be tested for covid. There must be no new admissions

Last week official figures showed a quarter of Scotland's coronavirus deaths have occurred in care homes.

In response to the outbreak, a West Dunbartonshire Council spokeswoman said: "Our dedicated team of carers at Crosslet House is working round the clock to provide essential care and support to residents and their families during these unprecedented and hugely challenging weeks.

"Testing of staff and residents has already been undertaken in line with guidance and the care home is already closed to new admissions."

The council said its procedures are "thorough" and added: "Morale among our staff remains high and we are hugely grateful for the vital role they are playing in caring for and protecting residents most in need."

A Care Inspectorate spokesman said: "We are aware of the tragic deaths of residents at this care home as a result of suspected cases of Covid-19.

"Our thoughts are with the loved ones of those affected as well as the staff and wider community of the home.

"We have been notified of the circumstances and we are in contact with the care service and the local health and social care partnership during this difficult time."

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